Five years ago today, I was in Beijing. I had left my BigLaw job rather abruptly and had taken off for China.
That first night at the hotel, I’d written:
A friend’s mother once snapped a photograph of me reading on their sofa. She said she liked the way the light hit my hair, and that she was going to paint me. She did. My parents didn’t buy the portrait, but I think I’m going to find it when I get back to the States, if it still exists.
One year later, I had gone to Las Vegas with my husband, and was leaving not with him to go back to New York, but via Interstate 15 with my parents. I knew It Was Over. I wrote:
This tears at me; breaks me; bends me over and crushes me to go through this. I want to run screaming.
I am listening to the Mairi Campbell version of “Auld Lang Syne” that I was listening to on New Year’s Eve and also when we were travelling through Switzerland and Austria; playing it and thinking of the havoc that 2008 had wreaked and whether my life was even worth living.
Can I just walk away? I have no intention of just walking. But I want to be in love. In a real relationship. With a real partner. With someone who rattles my bones in the physical and the emotional sense of bone-rattling. I want to change someone’s life; I want someone to look at me and say “You make me something else.”
My heart is breaking. My marriage is ending. I feel like Sisyphus all the time.
After I left Las Vegas, I tracked down my friend Jeff, and his mother, and, true to my word, I bought the painting of teenaged me.
This morning, I left my apartment and walked past the painting hanging above the sideboard in my dining room.
The painting was based on a snapshot taken about six months Before I Got Sick; before I was really very body-conscious. People always remark about the size of my right arm in the portrait: It looks so large; your arm couldn’t have ever been that large in real life.
But I am telling you: That is Me. That is the Me that Exists and Existed in my head, and in the mirror. It is the Me that repulsed my husband.
I suppose I always think about the beginning of April as the time around which I began to exist.
The start of this year has been hard. But I cannot forget that I still exist.